Thursday, December 30, 2010

Voices: Connie's Story

In addition to advocating for women's rights, 9to5 collects stories about women's experiences in the workplace-- the good, the bad, and the downright unbelievable-- for our Voices feature.

If you have a story from your workplace that you'd like to share, please tell us your story on our Voices page.

This Voices story comes from Connie, a mother in the southeastern US.

"The company that I worked for during 2006-2008 did not have paid sick leave, and only gave employees five vacation days, three of which were required to be saved for the week of Christmas shut down. Therefore, employees only had two vacation days during the year.

"My first boss allowed me to make up any time I needed off by working through lunch or late each day till I made up my time out sick. After I transferred to the Accounting Department, my new manager agreed to continue allowing me to make up any time off.

"Every time I was out I worked to make up that time. I worked late up to an hour each day and worked through lunch. I recorded my hours each day so that I would know how many hours I needed to make up and how many hours I had already made up. I was never paid overtime for any of the hours that I worked over forty hours a week. All of that time went to make up my time out.

After a few months of working in the Accounting Department, the manager called me into his office one day after I have been out, told me that I had missed too many days, and if I missed one more day of work he would fire me.

"My manager’s wife worked in the Human Resources department, so I was afraid going to HR would only make things worse. After being threatened I was shocked and scared. I have three school-age children. Everyday from then on I worried that the school or day care would call and tell me one of my daughters was sick and needed to be picked up. After my manager threatened me I was not able to give 100% at work because I was always afraid that I would get fired if one of my daughters were sick.

"During this time my husband was the only one in his department who worked first shift and he could not take time off, so when the girls were sick I had to take them to the doctor or stay home with them. My father and my mother-in-law both live nearby: however, my dad can not be around the children when they are sick due to his health issues; and my mother-in-law would not cancel plans to watch the girls or take them to the doctor for me. So it often fell to me, their mother, to take care of them. It was extremely stressful needing to be at two places at the same time and worrying, "will I get fired if I stay home with a sick child today?"

"I went to work sick-- I never stayed home sick myself. Two years ago, I was laid off by that company, but I have not let go of the feeling of helplessness I had when I could be fired for something that was out of my control."

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